“If your karate is good enough you do not need a black belt to prove it, and if it is not, then you should not wear one.
— Eiichi Miyazato
I think my driver changed. No longer am I motivated so much by belts. The strip of cloth we tie around our midsection. Sure they are a extremely helpful as goals and a visible result of our hard work and dedication that we actually can wear. What I’m finding though is that I am more driven by the prospect of an increase in skill, a better sense that I’m “gettin’ it”, and a more solid feeling that I can really use this stuff to protect myself if I ever need to.
Up until fairly recently, I have been focusing on the goal of being a Black Belt as my primary motivation. I have realized that this is all wrong, at least for me. With each new belt stripe and new belt color I get one step closer to Black Belt but I also get less and less jazzed about the belt itself and more excited about what the skills I’m obtaining. I wear mine every class despite the fact that few students at my school do not (except Black Belts). This is not done as a something that I hope triggers envy in White Belts but as a visible reminder to myself alone that I’ve made progress and should always strive to make progress. Every day, every class — without exception.
So why do we want to be Black Belts? That Final Destination. For some it’s a Bucket List item. In fact, I’ve seen a surprisingly high percentage of students bail within 6 months of getting said belt. For others a Black Belt is a personal challenge, like running a marathon. For some it’s to boast to everyone who’ll listen (the vast majority of people who do listen, by the way, will not give a rat’s ass, by the way). For others it might be a way to get recognition and respect (i.e., in a dojo) where they might not get it so easily outside in the real world. Maybe their spouse, boss, siblings, and co-workers think they’re a nicompooop but at the dojo, with a Black Belt, they are respected. Really though, who knows what drives someone else to do what they do? (more…)